What is fertility?
Fertility is the ability to father a child; many factors can impact on your ability to father a child.
How can chemotherapy affect fertility?
Chemotherapy treatment can stop the production of sperm (temporarily or permanently) and affect the production of the hormone testosterone, which can influence your sex drive and your ability to get an erection.
Is infertility temporary or permanent?
The effect that chemotherapy has on fertility may be permanent or temporary depending on:
- the chemotherapy drugs used
- the dose of the drug used – higher doses are more likely to affect your fertility
- your age and your general health.
Each person's situation is different and it is not always possible to preserve everyone's fertility.
Some types of hormonal therapy (such as androgen deprivation therapy) may affect fertility. This effect is usually temporary, although it may take several years to recover after completing hormone therapy.
Do I need to use contraception?
You are advised to avoid getting your partner pregnant during and after chemotherapy treatment. You should continue to use a reliable method of contraception for a defined period of time after your treatment has finished, discuss this with your doctor or a member of your treatment team.
tell your doctor as soon as possible, as there may be a risk to the health of a child conceived during or after treatment.
If you father a child during this period, you should
Is it still possible to father a child after chemotherapy?
It can be difficult to predict whether your fertility will be affected by chemotherapy or whether it will return to normal once the treatment has ended. With some diseases such as testicular cancer, fertility may already be affected prior to having any treatment.
It may be possible to have some of your sperm collected for future use, this needs to be done before you start treatment, discuss this with your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a fertility clinic, if you are referred to a fertility clinic it is important that the clinic knows that you are about to start chemotherapy treatment for cancer. For some patients sperm collection and banking may not be possible and there are no guarantees that stored sperm will be able to fertilise an egg and achieve a pregnancy.
Where can I get further information and support?
It is important to seek further information from your doctor or nurse before starting your treatment. When considering infertility treatment options, it may be helpful to talk to an infertility counsellor.